10 Mar Yeezus: Innovative or Redundant?
Last week, Kanye West released a trailer for his film, Yeezus. The advert runs for just over half a minute, combining footage from West’s recent tour with what are presumably meant to be artful shots of horses running through the snow, trees against an orange sky and, most telling of all, figures in pseudo-religious robes. The whole thing is set over snatches of his latest album, also titled Yeezus. The overall effect teeters dangerously between intriguingly vague and frustratingly sparse. There’s no mention of a release date, of collaborators, or, indeed, of any information at all other than the title and the recognisability of West’s music.
The Yeezus logo is almost the only concrete piece of information in the trailer. The trailer is entirely in keeping with West’s promotion of the album itself, which started with a two word twitter post, ‘June eighteen’, to mark the release date. West used a minimum of promotion for the album, and seems to be following suit for the film. West here manages to achieve what most so-called ‘teaser trailers’ today fail to do by raising more questions than it answers, the trailer encourages us to engage with a film which may not be released for some time to come. There is just enough information, just enough weirdness and confusion, to grab the viewers’ attention, and send them on a ten minute google-hunt in the hopes of finding more information. The fact that there is no more information is, in turn, simultaneously frustrating and enticing.
And yet West seems to have gone a little too far. There’s teasing your audience, and then there’s just being deliberately evasive. Initially, there were rumours that the film was being written by Bret Easton Elis, author of Psycho, and would star both West and his fiancée Kim Kardashian. However, it has since become apparent that this is a separate film, a biopic which may, or may not, also be called Yeezus.
West’s album of the same name is focussed on the experimental and the innovative. It’s good to see artists trying something different and branching out. An artist who is willing to experiment and embrace a new approach, regardless of the commercial success or failure of their project, deserves to be praised. And this is exactly what West has done with his latest album and what, based on the footage available, he seems to be doing with his new film.
West’s use of religious iconography implies innovation, but in reality comes across as try-hard.
But in truth, the whole thing feels a little try hard. It’s nothing that Madonna didn’t do in the eighties, with Like A Prayer, after all. Kanye seems to be throwing his hat in with other celebrities (Lady GaGa springs to mind) in the ‘weirder-than-you’ competition. The trouble is that it all feels a little staged, a little put on. Despite some worrying comments comparing himself to Apple founder Steve Jobs as a nucleus of the global society in an interview with Entertainment Weekly last year, there’s no sense that there’s any real meaning behind what Kanye’s doing. There’s no message, no depth to it beyond wearing silly clothes and sticky a couple of crucifixes into the middle of his shows to try and seem controversial.
Embracing innovation and change should be praised. Focussing on the art of a project, rather than the commerciality, is noble. But being weird and evasive for the sake of it is just plain annoying.
Watch the trailer here.
Written by Freddie Rochez.